A New Way to Close Puppy Mills!

by Mary Haight on January 5, 2011

Considering The Tax Shelter
Image by JD Hancock via Flickr

Innovation is part of what makes a country great.  And when it comes to finding a new way to close puppy mills, Indiana wins the Innovative State of the Month Award for using the pressures of tax law as a tool to bring them down.  Tax evasion is the crime, and the Attorney General (AG) is bringing cases against unlicensed dog breeders operating on a cash and carry basis. The AG presents the estimated amount of unpaid taxes, and seizes the dog and puppy assets of the business. HSUS partners with them to find placement in shelters for the animals.

At the beginning of the report the AG stated he never thought his office would be in the “puppy protection” business, and while he pledged to keep working to bust puppy mills, the issue to my eyes has become more of a “get the tax-cheats” than a “save animals from the cruelty of puppy mills” effort.  You can read more of this story by Maureen Hayden here and decide for yourself.

Being branded a tax cheat in a dog breeding business is not nearly as damning as being shut down for cruelty, but tax evasion will have to do as a quicker inroad to shuttering mills. While we  know that puppies and dogs do not live by food, water, and shelter alone, that meager measure prevails when inspectors look for signs of cruelty.  A re-education project for 2011…

The lack of importance, perhaps seriousness, attached to animals lives and the cruelty of puppy mills is an attitude conveyed in the use of the “going after tax cheats” slogan.  But maybe it’s more the knowledge that there are so many loopholes in the Animal Welfare Act that the millers who sell only on the internet or direct to the public are not subject to that law, therefore why not go the tax route? 

More States have moved to attempt to legislate puppy mills out of business, like Oklahoma and Missouri. State-wide legislation is a beginning. If enforcement is not what it should be(and is it ever?), at least it creates awareness among the public: It matters where you get your dog or cat.  

Pennsylvania claims that less than 40% of their commercial puppy mills remain since tough changes in animal laws were implemented in late 2009. That success will likely come to a screeching halt, however, based on a report from Brent Toellner at KC Dog Blog that discusses the economic shambles so many cities and States are in.  Toellner notes this will force animal welfare advocates to get smarter in finding the opportunities for success that often arise in hard times.   

Ok, fine – I’ll give up the purist view and get more excited about the tax-evasion route to closing down puppy mills. Go Indiana!  Any puppy mill news from your State, Province, Country?

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21 comments
Booth
Booth

Ms. Haight', I don't quite understand your response to my comments...."it would be great if the USDA worked in this area".....what area? Let me assure you the USDA is doing everything in it's power to FOSTER PUPPY MILLS. In 2000, The USDA was instrumental in helping the infamous Hunte Corporation[Goodman, MO] obtain a 3.5 million dollar business loan/grant from the US government as well as $900,000 in 2001..."rural business development". Can you comprehend how much animal suffering this money financed?....and be aware that the USDA are the compliance officers of an industry it encourages and promotes. Coupled with the laughable animal protection laws, the situation does not bode well for the animals. And while important and hopefully changing [after getting a huge vet bill trying to save a pet shop purchased puppy], You have more faith in public opinion that I do........Look at how the US public re-elevated that Satanic Michael Vick to his former glory in the name of sports/ NIKE corporation re-signed him. With all due respects to someone who shares my ideology in exposing and ending Puppy Mills, I stand by my original unedited comments. If not for violence;there would be no America.

Booth
Booth

Living in NYC, all one sees is "pure breed" puppy mill dogs....while so many healthy, loving,deserving mixed breed and pure breed dogs in shelters are put down or wait for an adoption that may or may not come. To all the A-HOLES that buy from pet stores or breeders, your third rate puppy mill puppy does NOT MAKE YOU PRINCESS DIANA!!!!! Please wonder how your dog's mother is suffering [if she is still alive in a cage the size of a washing machine or was she SHOT IN THE HEAD when she could no longer breed more puppies? Please GOOGLE Kathy Baruck and the Hunte corporation to see the travesty of justice that is our "wonderful" country's justice system. Our feeble laws foster this MASSIVE EVIL PROFITABLE ENTERPRISE! The USDA needs to ROT IN HELL with the puppymillers! Whatever it takes to end puppymills; tax liens...I fully support.

Natural dog supplement
Natural dog supplement

I hope this new method would close all those horrible puppy mill for good. I am against the very idea of puppy mill

Leslie Fisher
Leslie Fisher

great reporting as always Mary! Tax evasion? Why not. Whatever it takes. We know what the mills stand for, all too well. As always, I worry about the influx of animals into already overcrowded and overtaxed shelter systems. Shelters and rescues need more of everything: dollars, volunteers, space..... In a perfect world, everyone of those animals would go immediately to a loving home. Still, when people are galvanized into action, with large numbers of animals in need all at once, the outcome can be amazing. Let`s keep knocking those mills out of business one at a time. (proud owner of Doobie, a labbie puppy mill boy. )

Pamela
Pamela

I'm glad Edie and Amy reminded everyone of what put Al Capone behind bars. I always find the idealist/realist tension in bringing about social change interesting. I too am an idealist but I think the world needs both. When Abraham Lincoln was president, he was cursed by many abolitionists appalled that he didn't end slavery immediately upon taking office. Lincoln only signed the Emancipation Proclamation to prevent southern states from using the resources of slaves in their fight against the north. He didn't have any high-minded ideals about how slavery needed to end because it was just plain wrong. We need the idealists to speak the truth about what is just and to lead public opinion in a new direction. We need the realists to push change along for other reasons when the bulk of the public isn't quite ready to go where it needs to go.

Kim
Kim

This isn't negative thinking, it's reality and the state of our society as a whole: animals are low on the totem pole as far as important issues to tackle and I have a feeling it's going to stay that way for quite some time. In fact, I don't think I will see the kind of laws I'd like to see to protect animals in my lifetime. So, any little thing, and as imperfect as it may be, that helps an animal's plight I'm for it. One thing that still to this day really gets to me is the fact that about 10 or 15 years ago there was big news about puppy mills - the horrific life of these poor dogs was shown and reported on really popular shows like 20/20. I even worked with a woman that got a lot of them shut down. That long ago and it is still a battle today!

Mel
Mel

Finally! I suggested this same thing a few months ago when a local Minnesota Group (focused on stopping puppy mills) discovered that many puppy mill owners and backyard breeders are not paying state sales tax... at all. I suggested this could be a way to shut down puppy mills, but so far nothing has happened. Of course, we have a new, more pet-friendly governor now, so maybe I will write him a letter. Thanks for sharing what Indiana is doing! I am so excited to see a state taking action in a legitimate way that could have a huge impact (although, you do make a good point re: tough times and need for state revenue, which could revive mills). I remain hopeful that puppy mills will be a thing of the past in my lifetime.

Edie
Edie

Just remember -- it was tax evasion that brought down Al Capone, and no one really thought the Feds cared much about tax law. That is good news!

Amy@GoPetFriendly
Amy@GoPetFriendly

I'm sure that the cops pursuing Al Capone were not excited that he didn't go down for murder. On the other hand, he did go down. I see a couple of benefits here - if some mill owners are caught and forced to shut down their operations, that's great. If other mill owners feel the need to start reporting their income honestly for fear of going to jail, they may discover the reduced income does not warrant continuing to run the mill. From a business perspective, an increase in expenses without an ability to increase prices is not good - and that could be great news for the dogs.

@Kenzo_HW
@Kenzo_HW

Great news to start 2011. If it is tax laws that can sink them, thats fine by me.

Lorie Huston, DVM
Lorie Huston, DVM

Thanks for this report, Mary. Interesting - using tax evasion as a means to shut down puppy mills. I share your concerns about these people being branded as tax cheats rather than being known as the cruel, abusive, opportunistic "business people" that they are. However, if it closes puppy mills, I will support it nevertheless. I just hope that a smart lawyer/tax consultant isn't all that is needed to thwart these efforts.

Kristine
Kristine

It's something I guess, more than what other areas are doing. But it feels like accpepting a half-measure and then sitting back and saying our job is done. Should Indiana really get a cookie? Maybe. Sometimes I think animal welfare advocates are just too nice.

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